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National League Division Series presented by Doosan

Aguilar goes deep as Crew bats find rhythm

Arcia, Broxton go back to back in 9th; Kratz stays hot with 3 hits
MLB.com

DENVER -- After seeing Jesus Aguilar begin the National League Division Series with six hitless at-bats, manager Craig Counsell made a promise on Saturday: "Aggie is going to hit a home run in the playoffs, a big homer with men on base, I promise."

There wasn't anyone on base when Aguilar came to the plate with one out in the fourth inning at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon, but Aguilar nonetheless delivered the big hit his manager predicted as the Brewers clinched a spot in the NL Championship Series with a 6-0 win at Coors Field. His solo shot to left field off German Marquez proved to be the first of many signs that Milwaukee's lineup is rounding into form at the right time.

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DENVER -- After seeing Jesus Aguilar begin the National League Division Series with six hitless at-bats, manager Craig Counsell made a promise on Saturday: "Aggie is going to hit a home run in the playoffs, a big homer with men on base, I promise."

There wasn't anyone on base when Aguilar came to the plate with one out in the fourth inning at Coors Field on Sunday afternoon, but Aguilar nonetheless delivered the big hit his manager predicted as the Brewers clinched a spot in the NL Championship Series with a 6-0 win at Coors Field. His solo shot to left field off German Marquez proved to be the first of many signs that Milwaukee's lineup is rounding into form at the right time.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

Before pouring beer on anyone whose path he crossed in a celebratory clubhouse, Aguilar broke out of his mini-slump with a homer. Lorenzo Cain also recorded his first hit of the series. Unlikely postseason hero Erik Kratz went 3-for-4. Finally, Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton punctuated the Brewers' highest-scoring game in October with back-to-back homers in the ninth off Rockies closer Wade Davis.

Dress for success: Get Brewers gear for NLCS

"You want everybody to go into these four days off feeling really good about themselves. Offensively today, a lot of guys had good games," said Ryan Braun, who had two hits in the clinching victory and hit .385 in the NLDS. "Orlando Arcia hit a big homer for us. Broxton hit a big homer for us. Aggie hit a big homer for us. LoCain had a couple great at-bats and got on base for us.

"Hopefully everybody goes into these off-days feeling better about where we're at offensively. We know we can be better than we've been over the past few games."

Christian Yelich did most of the damage before Mike Moustakas ended Game 1 with a walk-off single. The bottom of the lineup, including Kratz, came up big during Milwaukee's 3-2 victory in Game 2. Yelich was the only one of the Brewers' eight starting position players to finish Sunday's game without a hit.

"We really do expect to be better than we've been offensively. We haven't really run the bases really well, either. We've made plenty of mistakes," Braun said. "The biggest thing is we believe in each other and we truly believe that we'll find a way to win every day -- somehow, some way, we've done that for the last two weeks."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Brewers hit 3 HRs and shut out Rockies

The Brewers pitched their way to a sweep, shutting out the Rockies twice, but they know they'll have to be firing on all cylinders to get past the NLCS.

"We're definitely confident. Want to be more consistent scoring runs," Cain said. "That starts with me. I've got to do better."

Cain was 0-for-10 in the series before hitting a one-out single to right in the fifth inning. After seven at-bats without a hit, Aguilar jumped on the first pitch he saw from Marquez in the fourth, an 82.6-mph curveball, and launched it a projected 418 feet with an exit velocity of 103.3 mph, according to Statcast™.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Broxton mashes 106.4-mph, 429-ft. homer

With his fifth home run in seven career games at Coors Field, Aguilar gave starter Wade Miley a little breathing room. Considering the way the Brewers have pitched lately -- and their 74-28 record when scoring first this season -- it might have felt like more than a little.

"The goal was to get ahead early. We knew if we got ahead early, we'd put the pressure on them," Braun said. "With the bullpen that we have, obviously, if we can get ahead, we feel incredibly confident we'll be able to hold that lead."

They wound up adding to it in the sixth with a wild two-run rally that included a run-scoring balk and wild pitch during the same at-bat. Arcia and Broxton put the finishing touches on a convincing victory with the Brewers' first back-to-back homers in postseason history. They celebrated together, too, dousing everyone they could with a bottle in each hand.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Arcia crushes a solo homer to left

"We've used the word depth a lot, and sometimes it's -- you feel like it's just a buzz word, but in our case, I think it's really important," Counsell said. "I think today was a great example of it, and what a cool way to win it because of our depth."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Orlando Arcia, Keon Broxton, Lorenzo Cain, Erik Kratz

Crew's arms set tone in unconventional roles

Miley works 4 2/3 innings to start Brewers' 2nd straight shutout
MLB.com

DENVER -- The question came when the Brewers added Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on Jan. 25, again when they picked up Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop before the July 31 Trade Deadline and once more before the postseason began. Sure, they have a deep lineup and a dominant bullpen, but what about that starting pitching?

The Brewers answered that question at every turn. In October, they've done so by ditching conventional roles -- these aren't starters, they're "initial out-getters" -- and trusting the arms that got them here. Right-hander Brandon Woodruff recorded the first nine outs of Game 1 without allowing a hit. Veteran Jhoulys Chacin fired five scoreless innings in Game 2. Lefty Wade Miley completed the National League Division Series sweep on Sunday, pitching 4 2/3 innings in the Brewers' 6-0 win over the Rockies.

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DENVER -- The question came when the Brewers added Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on Jan. 25, again when they picked up Mike Moustakas and Jonathan Schoop before the July 31 Trade Deadline and once more before the postseason began. Sure, they have a deep lineup and a dominant bullpen, but what about that starting pitching?

The Brewers answered that question at every turn. In October, they've done so by ditching conventional roles -- these aren't starters, they're "initial out-getters" -- and trusting the arms that got them here. Right-hander Brandon Woodruff recorded the first nine outs of Game 1 without allowing a hit. Veteran Jhoulys Chacin fired five scoreless innings in Game 2. Lefty Wade Miley completed the National League Division Series sweep on Sunday, pitching 4 2/3 innings in the Brewers' 6-0 win over the Rockies.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

Dress for success: Get Brewers gear for NLCS

"From Woody to Jhoulys to Wade today, they set the tone," general manager David Stearns said. "The guys behind them were able to pick it up, from there we were able to scratch some runs."

Those performances kick-started three exceptionally well-pitched games that have Milwaukee bound for the NL Championship Series. The Brewers entered the NLDS with one shutout in the club's postseason history then threw two against a dangerous Rockies lineup.

"It's incredible," catcher Erik Kratz said. "We can't really even realize how good it is."

The way the Brewers' bullpen pitched was no surprise. Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader were All-Stars this year. Corey Knebel has been untouchable since he returned last month. Joakim Soria is an established late-innings reliever. But to see their starters throw 12 2/3 scoreless innings while giving up only six hits and five walks?

"We left it out there, for sure. We did our jobs. The bullpen did its job," Miley said. "[Woodruff] started it off [in Game 1] with three hitless innings, and that kind of set the tempo for everybody. We kind of went from there."

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Woodruff K's 3 over 3 no-hit innings

Miley was handed the toughest assignment: a start at Coors Field against a Rockies lineup that has feasted on left-handers and thrived at home all season. The 46-degree chill at first pitch didn't make it any easier. But Miley, who has reinvented himself after signing as a Minor League free agent in February, continued his remarkable turnaround season into October.

"These past three weeks, we've played every game like it's Game 7 of the World Series. I guess it kind of prepared me for this day," Miley said. "It's something you dream about as a little kid, and I was able to go out there and live it."

The 31-year-old lefty, who put up a 2.57 ERA in 16 regular-season starts, allowed only three hits and a walk as he kept Colorado off-balance with cutters and curveballs. Rockies manager Bud Black admitted his lineup was pressing, trying too hard to make something happen, but Miley didn't give them much to work with.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Johnson discusses pitching in NLDS sweep

"Wade Miley has zero fear. Wade Miley fears nothing on this planet," Ryan Braun said. "It's a tough place to pitch, this is a [Rockies] team that kills left-handed pitchers. He really believed in himself and we believed in him. He went out there and set the tone. A lot of soft contact. That cutter, I think, has rejuvenated his career. It's really cool to see him have the success he had."

Miley threw only 64 pitches but was pulled with two outs and a runner on first in the fifth as Rockies leadoff man Charlie Blackmon stepped to the plate for the third time. Knebel came in and struck out Blackmon on three pitches.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Knebel strikes out Blackmon to end 5th

"You've got a group of guys who all want the same thing: We want to win the World Series," Miley said. "We're not trying to be more than who you are. Do your job and pass it on to the next guy."

Now, with four days off before the NLCS, manager Craig Counsell and pitching coach Derek Johnson can let their relievers rest and reconfigure the rotation. Miley would be able to start Game 1 at Miller Park on regular rest. Chacin will be ready to go. They can draw up a seven-game pitching plan that includes a mix of traditional starters and less traditional "out-getters" like Woodruff.

Video: COL@MIL Gm2: Chacin tosses 5 scoreless on 3 days rest

The way things went in the NLDS, it seems like just about anyone could get the job done. The Brewers inspired a new question, one born of admiration rather than doubt: How about that starting pitching?

"I think our pitching staff right now is pitching as well as it possibly could," Johnson said. "I'm really proud of our starters, too. They're getting a lot of outs."

Adam Berry is a reporter for MLB.com.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jhoulys Chacin, Wade Miley, Brandon Woodruff

Brewers sweep Rockies, advance to NLCS

Crew punches ticket to 3rd LCS in club history with 11th straight win
MLB.com

DENVER -- The Brewers are riding an 11-game winning streak to the National League Championship Series.

And just like it's supposed to be when the air turns crisp, pitching is paving the way.

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DENVER -- The Brewers are riding an 11-game winning streak to the National League Championship Series.

And just like it's supposed to be when the air turns crisp, pitching is paving the way.

View Full Game Coverage

A 6-0 win over the Rockies in Game 3 of the NL Division Series on Sunday at Coors Field gave the Brewers back-to-back shutouts and finished the first postseason series sweep in franchise history. Up next: The Dodgers or Braves beginning with Game 1 on Friday at Miller Park.

Tweet from @MLBStatoftheDay: The @Brewers are riding an 11-game winning streak into the #NLCS.Talk about getting hot at the perfect time. pic.twitter.com/HUm9UVJioI

"We're not going to the NLCS to lose," said Ryan Braun, the only remaining player from the last Brewers team to make it that far in 2011. "Nobody picked us to win the division. Nobody expected us to get to the NLCS. I'm sure when we get there, nobody will pick us to win.

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

"But we believe in each other, and we really are playing our best baseball when it matters most. We're excited about having home-field advantage because obviously it's a big deal."

Braun was right about the division, but he might be surprised when NLCS predictions start trickling in. Sweeping away the Rockies in three games means manager Craig Counsell will enter the next round with a well-rested pitching staff at the top of its game. Brewers pitchers held the Rockies scoreless in 27 of 28 innings in the NLDS, including 12 2/3 scoreless frames from their starters -- er, "initial out-getters" -- capped by lefty Wade Miley's 4 2/3 innings in Game 3.

Crew's rebuild complete at rapid pace

Miley was followed by Corey Knebel, Joakim Soria, Corbin Burnes (two innings), Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader in a second straight shutout. This one was a four-hitter.

It marked the first time in Rockies history that they were shut out in consecutive games with at least one of those contests played at Coors Field. They were only shut out here twice in the regular season: April 8 against the Braves and May 9 against the Angels.

Video: Brewers pitching shuts down Rockies in NLDS sweep

"Woody started it off with three hitless innings," said Miley, referring to Brandon Woodruff's surprise start in Game 1, "and that kind of set the tempo for everybody."

A record-setting tempo. The Brewers set an NLDS mark by holding the Rockies to two runs.

"Right now," said pitching coach Derek Johnson, "I think we're pitching as well as we possibly can."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Brewers on the team's pitching in NLDS

Added Lorenzo Cain: "They get better and better. When I signed to come here, that's what I wanted to do -- enjoy this feeling. We're not done yet."

Jesus Aguilar homered with the bases empty in the fourth inning for his first postseason hit after an 0-for-7 start, and Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton added insurance with back-to-back home runs off Wade Davis leading off the ninth while officials readied the visitors' clubhouse for Milwaukee's third champagne celebration in 12 days.

Aguilar goes deep as Crew bats find rhythm

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Aguilar drills solo HR to left field

The Brewers also got some help along the way, doubling their lead from 2-0 to 4-0 in the sixth on a run-scoring balk and a run-scoring wild pitch from Rockies reliever Scott Oberg.

Braun, Erik Kratz and Travis Shaw all logged multiple hits as the Brewers outhit the Rockies, 12-4, led by three more knocks for 38-year-old catcher Kratz. He was 5-for-8 in a pair of starts in his first career postseason series.

"You get all your celebrations in, because you never know if you're going to get another one," said Kratz, who found himself surrounded by teammates chanting M-V-P. "Just like you never know if you're going to get another day in this game. That's the best way to play. I've been very fortunate to be on this team where everybody plays that way."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Kratz goes 3-for-4 in Brewers' 6-0 win

The Brewers are in the LCS round for the third time in 50 seasons as a franchise. They beat the Angels in a best-of-five American League Championship Series in 1982, and fell to the Cardinals in six games in the 2011 NLCS.

By the time they take the field Friday night, the Brewers will have gone 19 days without losing a baseball game.

"Two more [series] to go," said Aguilar. "I think we're going to get there. I believe it. I really believe it. We have a great team, man."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Brewers hit 3 HRs and shut out Rockies

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
First strike: The Brewers entered the day 76-28 when they score first, including Games 1 and 2 at Miller Park, so it was big to put together a little small ball in the first inning for the game's first run. Christian Yelich, who had only two NLDS hits but posted a 1.196 OPS in the three games, started things by working an eight-pitch walk with one out against Rockies starter German Marquez. He moved to third when Braun punched a single through the right side of the infield and scored on Shaw's fielder's choice.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Shaw plates Yelich on fielder's choice

"It's huge," said Miley. "The pressure is on them to start the game, and when we took the 1-0 lead, it was [on them] even more. I was trying to get us back in the dugout as quick as possible and turn it over to the bullpen, and they did the rest."

Crew's arms set tone in unconventional roles

How was Miley's heartbeat going into the game?

"Not near as bad as I thought it would be," he said. "These past three weeks, we've played every game like it's Game 7 of the World Series. I guess it kind of prepared me for this day. It's something you dream about as a little kid, and I was able to go out there and live it."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Miley hurls 4 2/3 scoreless frames

Game-breakers: Davis is one of baseball's best closers, but the Brewers have given him all kinds of trouble in the past 13 months, beginning with homers for Arcia and Shaw in an extra-inning win over Davis when he was with the Cubs at Miller Park last September, and continuing Sunday when Arcia and Broxton hammered long home runs to break the game open in the ninth. The home run was Arcia's first since Aug. 8. Broxton's came in only his second at-bat of the series.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Arcia crushes a solo homer to left

"I can't even describe it," Broxton said. "It's one of the greatest feelings I've ever felt. It's always what I dreamed of. I'm just glad I was put in a position to do it. It was a bomb. It was clutch to add on after Arcia did."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Broxton mashes 106.4-mph, 429-ft. homer

SOUND SMART
Only once before in franchise history have the Brewers won 11 straight games in a season -- 1987, when Robin Yount, Paul Molitor and "Team Streak" set an AL record by beginning the season 13-0. The Pirates had an 11-game winning streak this season, but the only one longer in 2018 belonged to the Houston Astros, who won 12 straight games from June 6-18.

Brewers ride dominant relief corps to NLCS

"It's nearly impossible," said Braun, "and each of those 11 wins, we approached as a must-win. It's incredibly difficult to do that day after day, night after night, on the road, at home, against great pitchers. It's been an incredibly difficult thing to do, but it's been fun, man. We're enjoying it."

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Oberg's run-scoring balk and run-scoring wild pitch came in quick succession as the sixth inning spun out of control for Colorado. Kratz's double gave the Brewers runners at second and third with one out, but Oberg struck out Arcia to give himself an escape route. With Curtis Granderson up to pinch-hit, Oberg dropped the baseball while on the rubber, resulting in a balk that brought Mike Moustakas home for a 3-0 Brewers lead. With the count at 0-2, Oberg threw a wild pitch, and though catcher Tony Wolters retrieved it quickly, Kratz slid home safely with Milwaukee's fourth run.

Video: Must C Clips: Brewers extend lead on balk, wild pitch

"I credit [third-base coach] Eddie [Sedar] for that," said Kratz. "He prepared me for that. With two strikes, they moved [third baseman Nolan] Arenado off the line, and that gave me more of a lead -- which I need. A few steps. Eddie said, 'Hey, he's off the line, if it goes outside the circle, you're in.' And [it was the] next pitch.

Oberg's balk, wild pitch lead to 2 Brewers runs

"It's like I've said before -- you prepare for the moment. Eddie prepared me for the moment."

That inning gave the Brewers a 4-0 lead. Does a victory feel close at that point?

"It does. There was a moment where I thought about that," said Kratz. "Then I had to realize we have to come back and [make] one pitch at a time. That's boring. I don't get to enjoy it. … On the bench, I'm sure they were enjoying it."

HE SAID IT
"This club is very capable. Absolutely. I think that's the bottom line -- and to do it the way they've done it, and do it on enemy ground … you know this club is good and solid in what they're doing." -- Bob Uecker

Uecker celebrates with Brewers again after NLDS sweep

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Uecker on the Brewers advancing to NLCS

"Two celebrations to go! We accomplished this by everybody playing to the best of their abilities. Everybody here is doing their job the best that they possibly can, and that's why we're winning baseball games. Nothing's going to change. The lights will get brighter. It's going to be more fun than we've had to this point. We're going to keep doing the same [stuff]." -- Braun, in his postgame speech to the team

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Braun gives passionate speech after NLDS

UP NEXT
The Brewers know they will host Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday at Miller Park, but they don't yet know the opponent. It will be either the Dodgers or the Braves, who won Sunday to stay alive in the other NLDS. The Dodgers lead that series, 2-1, with Game 4 scheduled for Monday night. The Brewers were 3-4 against L.A. during the regular season and 4-3 against Atlanta.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jesus Aguilar, Orlando Arcia, Ryan Braun, Keon Broxton, Josh Hader, Corey Knebel, Erik Kratz, Wade Miley

Brewers ride dominant relief corps to NLCS

Milwaukee has rested bullpen for upcoming best-of-seven series
MLB.com

DENVER -- The Brewers have maintained belief that their bullpen is built for a lengthy October run but admittedly suggest that their path through the postseason will be predicated on rest. That's what makes their three-game sweep over the Rockies in the National League Division Series so valuable.

After Sunday's 6-0 win at Coors Field, Milwaukee is moving on to the NL Championship Series, which begins Friday at Miller Park. The Brewers' bevy of power relief arms, which were their catalyst in their sweep of Colorado, have four days off ahead of a matchup against either the Braves or Dodgers.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- The Brewers have maintained belief that their bullpen is built for a lengthy October run but admittedly suggest that their path through the postseason will be predicated on rest. That's what makes their three-game sweep over the Rockies in the National League Division Series so valuable.

After Sunday's 6-0 win at Coors Field, Milwaukee is moving on to the NL Championship Series, which begins Friday at Miller Park. The Brewers' bevy of power relief arms, which were their catalyst in their sweep of Colorado, have four days off ahead of a matchup against either the Braves or Dodgers.

View Full Game Coverage

Milwaukee dodged Game 4 on Monday that forecasted a chance of snow, avoided a trip back to Milwaukee for a would-be Game 5 and put a bow on a series that the Brewers dominated with pitching.

The Brewers' tactics were tailored for the best-of-five NLDS that has never has more than two games in a row without a day off. But in the seven-game NLCS ahead, general manager David Stearns suggested that the team's relief-heavy approach would likely be altered within its NLCS roster construction.

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

"I think throughout the entire season, we've relied on our pitching unit as a whole," Stearns said. "We're blurring the lines a little bit between starter and relievers. We've done that through the entire year. A shorter series allows you to accentuate that and we've been able to do it. … We came in with a really solid game plan and we executed it."

Dress for success: Get Brewers gear for NLCS

Their methodology isn't completely novel, but it's not unorthodox either, and it requires astute supervision from manager Craig Counsell and pitching coach Derek Johnson, beyond game-by-game matchups. All-Star closer Jeremy Jeffress is working on a career-high 80 innings, setup man Josh Hader, a former starter, has appeared in 58 games and shown fatigue when pitching on back-to-back days. And Corey Knebel was optioned to the Minors in late August for a physical and mental break.

Given their workloads, the Brewers' pitchers will use Monday as a full off-day and will resume workouts Tuesday. Johnson said they may opt for some relievers to throw a scrimmage or live batting practice before Friday to stay conditioned.

"We've put a lot of innings on them. We've put a lot of pitches on them," Johnson said. "I think the good thing about now is adrenaline takes over a little bit because we're in high-pressure situations. It's do or die."

"Counsell knows how to use a bullpen," Jeffress said. "To have these four days off, it's going to be great for us. It's much needed. We'll see what matchups come up, see who we're playing and go from there."

This is how the Brewers plan to beat the opposition: Build an early lead and turn it over to an army of relief arms that offer versatility and variety.

Jeffress, a right-hander, enjoyed a kind of rejuvenation by expanding his repertoire to include a split-changeup that's worked wonders all season long with a polished grip on his curveball that has given him a four-pitch mix. Hader has blossomed into one of the most revered left-handed specialists. Knebel has given up just five hits and zero runs in 19 outings since his Minor League stint. And there are contributors such as Corbin Burnes, who threw two perfect innings on Sunday, and Joakim Soria, whom the Brewers acquired ahead of the Deadline for next to nothing and who allowed just two baserunners over three appearances in the NLDS.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Burnes fans 2 in 2 perfect innings

"Honestly, this is the best bullpen I've ever seen in the big leagues ever put together," said Gio Gonzalez, an 11-year veteran and the outlier of sorts as an Aug. 31 trade acquisition from the Nats.

This is why they like their chances against the Braves or Dodgers -- both of whom have shown late-innings vulnerability on the mound.

The Brewers played perhaps their oddest series of the season against the Dodgers in L.A. two months ago, winning one game, 1-0, on a seven-shutout-inning performance by Wade Miley, and losing another, 21-5, in a game Clayton Kershaw delivered six solid innings. For the season, Milwaukee went 3-4 against the reigning NL champs. Against the Braves, the Brewers went 4-3 and outscored them, 35-34, despite a 10-1 loss on Aug. 10. They won three in a four-game series against Atlanta at Miller Park in early July.

From a bullpen matchup, Los Angeles relievers have been credited with 10 losses in 49 games since All-Star closer Kenley Jansen was placed on the disabled list with an irregular heartbeat in August, and Jansen himself has struggled since returning, posting a 5.40 ERA and giving up seven homers in 19 outings. The Braves are largely riding on youth and inexperience, particularly at the postseason level, with a nucleus of Arodys Vizcaino, A.J. Minter, Brad Brach and Touki Toussaint among others.

In an era where bullpens are the catalyst or focal part for championship clubs, the Brewers believe they have the best one left standing in the National League.

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.

Milwaukee Brewers, Josh Hader

Red-hot Brewers' rebuild complete at rapid pace

Milwaukee enters NLCS playing its best baseball, having won 11 straight games
MLB.com

DENVER -- This is the kind of team that wins the World Series. Isn't that the bottom line on these Brewers, as they advance to the National League Championship Series?

Let's check off some boxes: Their pitching staff is on a historic roll, their defense nearly perfect. Offensively, Milwaukee has stars in the middle of the lineup, but it is also getting contributions from every corner of their clubhouse.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- This is the kind of team that wins the World Series. Isn't that the bottom line on these Brewers, as they advance to the National League Championship Series?

Let's check off some boxes: Their pitching staff is on a historic roll, their defense nearly perfect. Offensively, Milwaukee has stars in the middle of the lineup, but it is also getting contributions from every corner of their clubhouse.

View Full Game Coverage

Oh, and there's this: The Brewers are playing their best when the stage is its largest and the lights are brightest. Milwaukee won its 11th straight game on Sunday afternoon when it eliminated the Rockies 6-0 in Game 3 of the National League Division Series at Coors Field.

Dress for success: Get Brewers gear for NLCS

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

When they host Game 1 of the NLCS on Friday at Miller Park, it will be nearly three full weeks since the Brewers' last loss. And it seems like many months ago that Milwaukee was six games out of first place in the National League Central, which it would eventually win in a 163rd-game tiebreaker with the Cubs.

That was Aug. 28 when they were six games out, and if you had the Brewers in your NLCS poll, you were on a small bandwagon. They're 26-7 since then. Their bullpen has a dazzling 2.16 ERA, the best in baseball. They're scoring runs, too, in bunches, at 5.4 per game.

And in this stretch, outfielder Christian Yelich has probably nailed down the NL Most Valuable Player Award with 12 home runs, seven doubles and a .386 batting average.

If you drew up a prototype of a championship team, this might be it.

"We've matured a lot as a team in the last couple months," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "And the sacrifices that a lot of guys have made have really helped us mature as a team.

"We've played so well, and in a lot of ways, it's kind of spoiled us a little bit. Like I said, 11 in a row at this time of year means a lot of things are going right."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Hader retires Desmond to complete sweep

Milwaukee swept the Rockies with the best pitching in NLDS history: a 0.90 ERA. The Brewers' initial out-getter -- some call him the starting pitcher -- set a tone, and then their bullpen finished it off.

With a bullpen that includes three relievers with closer-like stuff -- Corey Knebel, Josh Hader and Jeremy Jeffress -- and one of the organization's best young arms, Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee put the pressure on the opposition to score early or not score at all.

"You've really got to tip your cap to those arms in the bullpen," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "A couple of guys came out of nowhere, right? That kid Burnes had a nice run for him in these games. It's a good team. They got themselves in a pretty good position."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Burnes fans 2 in 2 perfect innings

This is the next step in a process that started in 2015, when Brewers owner Mark Attanasio watched his team collapse in the final six weeks of the season, losing 24 of their final 39. They lost 94 games in all that year and finished 32 games out of first place. When it mercifully ended, Attanasio wanted a new direction.

His search took him to David Stearns, a bright young assistant general manager of the Astros who had also worked for the Indians and at Major League Baseball.

No executive has done his job better since the hiring of Stearns, and in the last 12 months, Stearns finished the roster construction with the acquisitions of outfielders Yelich and Lorenzo Cain on the same January day, along with late-season additions in third baseman Mike Moustakas, outfielders Curtis Granderson, pitcher Gio Gonzalez and veteran reliever Joakim Soria.

Video: Moustakas on the Brewers' sweep of the Rockies

In his first job interview, Stearns assured Attanasio that the Brewers were closer to winning than a lot of people thought and that no teardown was needed. But to go from 94 losses in 2015 to 96 wins three years later was beyond anything Attanasio -- or pretty much anyone else -- expected.

"No way we could have thought it was going to be this fast," Attanasio said. "However, David Stearns never put a timetable on it. David was always, 'We're going to have a process. We're going to have a methodology and then good things will happen.'"

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Attanasio talks Stearns progress in 2018

Now the Brewers are off to the next round, and they are four victories from bringing the World Series back to Milwaukee for the first time in 34 years.

"We believe in each other, and we really are playing our best baseball when it matters most," outfielder Ryan Braun said.

Richard Justice has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2011. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @RichardJustice.

Milwaukee Brewers

Season ends quietly as Rockies fall in Game 3

Unable to summon Coors magic, club shut out in consecutive games
MLB.com

DENVER -- The bats that disappeared on the road during the week didn't turn up at Coors Field on a chilly Sunday afternoon, either. And a promising Rockies season is over.

The Rockies managed few chances and were shut out for the second straight game as the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the National League Division Series, 6-0, before a sellout crowd of 49,658.

View Full Game Coverage

DENVER -- The bats that disappeared on the road during the week didn't turn up at Coors Field on a chilly Sunday afternoon, either. And a promising Rockies season is over.

The Rockies managed few chances and were shut out for the second straight game as the Brewers completed a three-game sweep of the National League Division Series, 6-0, before a sellout crowd of 49,658.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

It was just the third shutout of the Rockies at Coors Field this season, supplying an ending befitting a punchless week. In a 5-2 NL West tiebreaking loss to the Dodgers last Monday, a 2-1 win over the Cubs in 13 innings in the NL Wild Card Game and three games against the Brewers -- who head to the NL Championship Series on an 11-game win streak -- the Rockies scored a total of six runs.

While the Rockies can celebrate 2018 as the first time the team made postseason trips in consecutive years -- they played in the NL Wild Card Game last year -- the quick exit means there is work to do.

"They [the Brewers] pitched really well," Rockies manager Bud Black said. "They've got good arms. I think there was a little bit of pressing going on all week. These were games that were high intensity and a lot on the line. You know, the Dodger game, the Cubs game, these three playoff games. I think there were some guys trying a little bit too hard, which is a natural occurrence."

Despite NLDS loss, future optimistic for Rockies

Starting pitching has been a priority, and it accounted for itself well. German Marquez gave up two runs -- one on Jesus Aguilar's Statcast-measured 418-foot homer in the fourth -- on seven hits with five strikeouts before being lifted for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth. Counting lefty Kyle Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the NL Wild Card Game, Rockies starters managed a 1.99 ERA in four postseason games.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Aguilar smashes a solo homer to left

Hometown kid Freeland doesn't pitch in NLDS

But with the season on the line, the Rockies managed four hits -- and made dubious history. In their 26-season history, they had never been blanked in consecutive games when one of them was played at Coors.

Headliner Nolan Arenado went 0-for-4 -- with a befuddled strikeout against Joakim Soria in the sixth encapsulating his day and a 2-for-11 series.

"You gotta give credit to the Brewers, also," Arenado said. "Good pitching. Other than that, we just didn't have good at-bats. Sometimes you go through stretches where you just can't get anything going. Early in the year, we had that, where our pitchers were pitching really well, and our offense couldn't get going. It was like that, just at the wrong time."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Arenado turns a 5-3 double play

Leadoff man Charlie Blackmon, who managed a couple of well-struck balls, was 0-for-4 on Sunday and 1-for-12 for the series. Trevor Story, who joined Blackmon and Arenado at the All-Star Game, managed two hits, with a double, in Game 3 after going 0-for-8 in Games 1 and 2. DJ LeMahieu, eligible for free agency, doubled on a 1-for-3 day, but he was 2-for-9 in the series.

Blackmon, who has dealt with the Rockies' at times extreme peaks and valleys (and is signed through 2021), said performance in big at-bats is an area for improvement.

"It's one thing to play a six-month season and be a good player; it's another thing to have to get the hit right now or you lose and you go home," Blackmon said. "It's a little different mentality when you play that one-game playoff or you make it to the Division Series and every game is so important.

"We need to bring that into the regular season, and make those leveraged at-bats really count."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Rockies discuss NLDS loss to the Brewers

It was supposed to change when the Rockies left the road. They put two on base in the second, on Story's leadoff single and Carlos Gonzalez's one-out walk against Brewers starter Wade Miley. However, Ian Desmond flied to left and Tony Wolters grounded out. And it certainly didn't help the offense when the vaunted Brewers bullpen took over -- with Corey Knebel's strikeout of Blackmon to end the fifth.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Knebel strikes out Blackmon to end 5th

The Brewers scored twice in an odd sixth against Scott Oberg, on a balk and a wild pitch with two out. Rockies closer Wade Davis, with no game to save, yielded consecutive homers to Orlando Arcia and Keon Broxton in the ninth before walking two more and exiting.

Video: Must C Clips: Brewers extend lead on balk, wild pitch

Sunday's defeat left the crowd and the players disappointed, but veteran first baseman Desmond noted that a setback day can't erase the forward step the team took.

"We grinded as a collective group better, and ultimately we made it one step further," Desmond said. "There are a lot of guys in this locker room who are 2-for-2 in postseason appearances. That is not the ultimate goal. That's to win the World Series. But it's not a bad thing for guys to know that we're good enough to make it to the postseason."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Black discusses the Rockies 2018 season

SOUND SMART
Marquez made his start at 23 years and 227 days of age. The only younger Rockies pitcher to make a postseason start was lefty Franklin Morales, who was 21 in 2007 when he started a game apiece in the NLDS and the NLCS.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Marquez K's 5 in 5 solid innings

"That's my approach every time I go out, give the team a chance to win and keeping the game close," Marquez said in Spanish, with first-base coach Tony Diaz translating. "That's what I did tonight. Unfortunately, we came up short.

"You've got to tip your cap to the Brewers' pitching staff. Our offense is really good, and they shut us down. That happens."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Black discusses Marquez's performance

WAS THIS GOODBYE?
In the first inning, LeMahieu ranged to his left to grab Travis Shaw's grounder, took a spin toward the outfield and fired to second for an out on a play that drove in the Brewers' first run. Such plays from LeMahieu, a two-time All-Star and two-time Rawlings NL Gold Glove Award winner, became common after he arrived from the Cubs -- chiefly for infielder Ian Stewart -- after the 2011 season.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Shaw plates Yelich on fielder's choice

LeMahieu, who added the double and a walk to his day, said the idea that his time in purple pinstripes could be over hit him emotionally.

"It's been an unbelievable experience, just couldn't be more thankful for being a Rockie, for my time since I've been called up," LeMahieu said. "It's easy to do with the group we have. Such an unselfish group.

"The fact that we were eight games out in June, and everyone was getting questions about what's going to happen if everyone gets traded -- to end where we did, it was pretty cool how we played the second half."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: LeMahieu knocks a double to left

LeMahieu isn't the only one facing free agency.

Gonzalez was a free agent last year, but he re-signed during Spring Training. Now he faces free agency again.

"This is a place that I know over the years, and I feel really proud of every single opportunity I've had in this organization, and we'll see what happens in the end."

Additionally, righty reliever Adam Ottavino will be a first-time free agent, and Matt Holliday will be free, also. The Rockies have a club option on outfielder Gerardo Parra, at $12 million for 2019 or a $1.5 million buyout; they're unlikely to pick up the option but could negotiate a new deal.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Pending Rox free agents discuss future

HE SAID IT
"This has been a big learning experience. I think I had a solid year. I think the way people approach me and talk to me, it feels like it's been a down year. I guess the bad games I've had, they've been in crucial situations. That part hurts. But I played in 150 games -- that's my goal every year. I drove in 100. I'm very thankful for the year I had. It's hard to sit here and complain about the year I had. I wish I was better in certain situations, and I wish I was better here in October, but that's the part of the game you learn." -- Arenado

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Arenado discusses hitting in Game 3 loss

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado, Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez, DJ LeMahieu, German Marquez, Scott Oberg

Oberg's balk, wild pitch lead to 2 Brewers runs

MLB.com

DENVER -- With the Brewers leading the Rockies by two runs in Sunday's 6-0 victory at Coors Field in Game 3 to sweep the National League Division Series, the sixth inning spun out of control for Colorado, leading to a pair of Milwaukee runs resulting from a balk and a wild pitch.

Rockies reliever Scott Oberg opened the frame by striking out Jesus Aguilar. Mike Moustakas followed with a single to left field, and Erik Kratz doubled him to third. Oberg struck out Orlando Arcia, giving him a chance to escape the inning without allowing a run, something of added importance for the Rockies, who totaled two runs in the series.

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DENVER -- With the Brewers leading the Rockies by two runs in Sunday's 6-0 victory at Coors Field in Game 3 to sweep the National League Division Series, the sixth inning spun out of control for Colorado, leading to a pair of Milwaukee runs resulting from a balk and a wild pitch.

Rockies reliever Scott Oberg opened the frame by striking out Jesus Aguilar. Mike Moustakas followed with a single to left field, and Erik Kratz doubled him to third. Oberg struck out Orlando Arcia, giving him a chance to escape the inning without allowing a run, something of added importance for the Rockies, who totaled two runs in the series.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

Brewers manager Craig Counsell sent Curtis Granderson up as a pinch-hitter for reliever Corey Knebel, and during the Granderson at-bat, Oberg dropped the baseball while on the rubber, resulting in a balk that brought Moustakas in for a 3-0 Brewers lead. With the count at 0-2, Oberg threw a wild pitch, and though catcher Tony Wolters retrieved it quickly, Kratz slid home safely with Milwaukee's fourth run.

"Prior to that pitch, I was digging out the mound a little bit, and when I stopped digging, I went to transfer the ball from my glove to my hand," Oberg said. "And after watching the replay and reading the rulebook, I think [second-base umpire] Alfonso [Marquez] made the right call."

Added Rockies manager Bud Black: "I wasn't watching Scott at the time; I was engaging in a couple of other things. Then I saw the balk was called, and as you know, by rule you can't contest a balk call. When it's called, it's called. But after the inning, Alfonso told me that Scott was engaged on the rubber, and the ball came out of his glove."

The balk was only the second of Oberg's career; the other came in 2015. The wild pitch was his fourth of the season. Though Oberg would strike out Granderson to end the frame, the Brewers doubled their lead against a struggling Rockies offense, giving Milwaukee's vaunted bullpen a cushion with 12 outs to go.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Scott Oberg on NLDS Game 3, balk

From there, Corbin Burnes, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader combined to toss three scoreless frames, while Milwaukee's offense added two more runs on homers from Arcia and Keon Broxton, as the Brewers punched their ticket to the NL Championship Series.

"It does [feel like victory is close after scoring the fourth run]. There was a moment where I thought about that," Kratz said. "Then I had to realize we have to come back and [make] one pitch at a time. That's boring. I don't get to enjoy it. … On the bench, I'm sure they were enjoying it."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Kratz mic'd up during 3-hit game

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Milwaukee Brewers, Colorado Rockies, Erik Kratz, Scott Oberg

Despite NLDS loss, future optimistic for Rockies

MLB.com

DENVER -- Though their season came to an end on Sunday at Coors Field, the Rockies took a step forward in 2018. As the final out was recorded in a 6-0 loss to the Brewers that completed a National League Division Series sweep, there was a sense of optimism in the Colorado clubhouse behind the immediate and poignant disappointment.

The Rockies reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, losing in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game against the D-backs, then falling to Milwaukee in this year's NLDS. But what they showed in the process is that there is a strong core to build around, and their window for winning is wide open.

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DENVER -- Though their season came to an end on Sunday at Coors Field, the Rockies took a step forward in 2018. As the final out was recorded in a 6-0 loss to the Brewers that completed a National League Division Series sweep, there was a sense of optimism in the Colorado clubhouse behind the immediate and poignant disappointment.

The Rockies reached the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history, losing in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game against the D-backs, then falling to Milwaukee in this year's NLDS. But what they showed in the process is that there is a strong core to build around, and their window for winning is wide open.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

"You look forward to next year knowing that you can build around a starting staff that is going to have success," said left-hander Kyle Freeland, who didn't pitch in the NLDS. "And you know this lineup is going to have success. I know it didn't show too much against the Brewers this series, but we all know what they're capable of. Knowing we have both hitting and pitching on both sides, it makes the future very exciting."

A franchise that has historically been known for its hitting, particularly in the thin mountain air of Denver, demonstrated on a national stage this October that one of its greatest strengths lies in its pitching staff.

Freeland put together the finest campaign by a Rockies starting pitcher in the franchise's 26-season history, with a 2.85 ERA over 33 starts in his second Major League season. That included a 2.40 ERA at Coors Field, the lowest by any Rockies starter in club history. And German Marquez, in his third big league season, posted a 2.61 ERA in the second half, striking out 124 batters while walking 20.

Though the bullpen, which the club fortified last offseason by adding Wade Davis and Bryan Shaw, as well as re-signing Jake McGee, struggled for much of the season, it had its moments, particularly in September, when Rockies relievers compiled a 2.97 ERA as the club went 19-9 to force an NL West tiebreaker with the Dodgers.

It was the offense that vanished in the NLDS, as it did during many stretches of the regular season. Despite having names like Charlie Blackmon, Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story in the lineup, Colorado's hitters had a streaky year, sputtering during some stretches and erupting during others.

"It didn't turn out to be on [the pitching staff] like most every other year of Rockies history," Arenado said. "This year, it really feels like the offense was the problem. It's disappointing, as an offensive player, but I guess it shows you that we can get better."

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Black on offensive struggles in NLDS

The Rockies finished 25th in the Majors with an 87 Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+), which is park-adjusted to account for the hitter-friendly environment at Coors Field. One of the questions now that Colorado begins its offseason is whether another bat will be added to the lineup.

"I think we have a good, solid core group," Arenado said. "I think you're always willing to add pieces to help you get better. I think it was a good sign that offensively, we need to get better. I don't know if that's with [outside] help, or we just need to change our approaches and get better at the plate. I know that individually, I need to get better."

Arenado is scheduled to be a free agent following next season, and as 2019 approaches, so might talks of a contract extension.

"Obviously arbitration is going to come around, and that topic will come up, but I expect to be in Spring Training with the Rockies next year," Arenado said. "I love it here. This is a business, though, and things can get a little iffy because of the business side of it. But that being said, I expect to be in Spring Training next year."

Other key players are free agents after the World Series, including DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Adam Ottavino. The Rockies have a team option for Gerardo Parra.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Pending Rox free agents discuss future

LeMahieu said after Sunday's game that the day was emotional for him, as he has been with the club for seven of his eight Major League seasons, winning a batting average title in 2017.

Gonzalez has been a franchise icon, having spent a decade with Colorado and re-signing with the team on a one-year deal last offseason.

"This is a franchise that has been good to me and my family," Gonzalez said. "The city and the fans, I've enjoyed every single opportunity I've had with this organization. I know I'm going to be a free agent after the World Series is over. I would love to come back."

After struggling in 2017, Gonzalez had a better year at the plate this season, hitting .276/.329/.467 with 16 home runs in a part-time role.

Ottavino also struggled in 2017, but he bounced back to become one of the best relievers in the Majors this year. He posted a 2.43 ERA over 75 appearances, striking out 112 of the 309 batters he faced (36 percent).

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Black on Rockies being swept in the NLDS

Parra hit .284/.342/.372 in 401 plate appearances, taking a step back from his 2017 performance at the plate, but he came through with key hits down the stretch and played a solid outfield.

Then there are the young players who got their first real taste of the Majors, including Ryan McMahon, who had several clutch hits for Colorado. His walk-off home run against the Dodgers on Aug. 11 came in the thick of a pennant race. David Dahl, who could be a key outfielder moving forward, had a big month of September, hitting .287 and launching nine of his 16 homers on the season. Infielder Garrett Hampson also showed promise when he got playing time, particularly when Story was injured late in the regular season.

Several questions surround the Rockies as they transition to 2019, but one thing has become clear: The future is promising for a franchise entering its 27th season after back-to-back postseason appearances.

"We're a really good team," Story said. "We're young, but we have a lot of experience now. This is just another year of experience that everybody can add under their belt."

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB.

Colorado Rockies

Hometown kid Freeland doesn't pitch in NLDS

MLB.com

DENVER -- A sellout Coors Field crowd watched the Rockies fall, 6-0, to the Brewers and be swept in three games in the National League Division Series. But it didn't get to see its favorite son -- left-hander Kyle Freeland -- pitch in the postseason at home.

Rockies manager Bud Black, noting that Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday came on three days' rest, decided to hold Freeland for Monday. Although German Marquez wasn't bad Sunday -- two runs and five strikeouts in five innings -- the season ended without Freeland getting his first postseason start at Coors Field.

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DENVER -- A sellout Coors Field crowd watched the Rockies fall, 6-0, to the Brewers and be swept in three games in the National League Division Series. But it didn't get to see its favorite son -- left-hander Kyle Freeland -- pitch in the postseason at home.

Rockies manager Bud Black, noting that Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the NL Wild Card Game on Tuesday came on three days' rest, decided to hold Freeland for Monday. Although German Marquez wasn't bad Sunday -- two runs and five strikeouts in five innings -- the season ended without Freeland getting his first postseason start at Coors Field.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

Before the game, Freeland, 25, threw his support behind Marquez, saying he had "an extremely hot hand." Afterward, he turned his attention to working to put himself in a position where he'll get his chance. Freeland led a youthful, solid starting rotation by going 17-7 with a 2.85 ERA in 33 starts.

"No matter how or when you're defeated, you've definitely got to use that as a motivator to get you going into next year, constantly bettering yourself," Freeland said. "Maybe remember that you didn't make the postseason or you got knocked out in the postseason or you lost a certain game. You want to make sure that doesn't happen again, and you want to do what it takes to make sure that doesn't happen again."

Freeland's ERA was the lowest for a Rockies starter who qualified for the league title in the category, and he is certain to have his name on some Cy Young Award ballots. Baseball Writers' Association of America voters can list five pitchers. The only Rockies pitcher to finish among the top five was Ubaldo Jimenez, who was third in 2010.

Freeland's outing against the Cubs was part of a 1.99 ERA for Colorado's starting rotation in its four postseason games.

"It's exciting, knowing that young guys like us just now really getting into the postseason atmosphere of pitching, it shows that we're not scared of it, we won't back down from it, and we rise to the occasion," Freeland said. "From that Game 163 [a loss at Los Angeles started by Marquez] all the way up until now, starting pitching has been extremely good."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland

Crew mulling Game 4 starter options if needed

MLB.com

DENVER -- With a chance to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday at Coors Field, the Brewers hope they won't have to worry about picking a starting pitcher for Monday's if-necessary National League Division Series Game 4.

Manager Craig Counsell said Sunday afternoon that the Brewers would wait to see how Game 3 played out before naming a Game 4 starter.

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DENVER -- With a chance to complete a three-game sweep on Sunday at Coors Field, the Brewers hope they won't have to worry about picking a starting pitcher for Monday's if-necessary National League Division Series Game 4.

Manager Craig Counsell said Sunday afternoon that the Brewers would wait to see how Game 3 played out before naming a Game 4 starter.

View Full Game Coverage

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

"We've got a couple different plans in place, and we've got a couple different ways to go, depending on how today's game kind of unfolds," Counsell said. "And then that'll predicate what we're going to do tomorrow."

Milwaukee could replicate its Game 1 strategy by designating an "initial out-getter" and pitching a bullpen game. Right-handers Brandon Woodruff and Corbin Burnes, who both pitched multiple innings in Game 1, were available out of the bullpen on Sunday. Counsell said Burnes was "certainly" part of the mix for Game 3 while Woodruff "could be involved."

The Brewers also could turn to right-hander Freddy Peralta, who beat the Rockies twice this season. Peralta struck out 13 and allowed only one hit over 5 2/3 innings during his Major League debut at Coors Field on May 13. He held Colorado to two runs on two hits while striking out eight over six innings at Miller Park on Aug. 4.

"Look, Freddy made this roster because of the success he's had against this team, and he's got a good thought to go back on in this ballpark," Counsell said. "So he's definitely a name you've got circled in these next two games. How we end up using him or where it comes out, I don't know.

"I don't really have a specific plan for Freddy. But the way these games will unfold, I'm pretty certain that he's going to be part of one of these games."

After starting right-hander German Marquez on Sunday, the Rockies have lined up ace lefty Kyle Freeland for Game 4.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Milwaukee Brewers

Arenado: No extra pressure, just get job done

Black pitches to hitters in advance of lefty foe; Freeland held for potential Game 4
MLB.com

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado didn't need a pep talk.

"We know who we are as an offense," said Arenado, who was 2-for-7 while his team hit .186 in the first two games of the National League Division Series against the Brewers. "We'll have our talks and our meetings before the game today, but there isn't a whole lot of discussion.

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DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado didn't need a pep talk.

"We know who we are as an offense," said Arenado, who was 2-for-7 while his team hit .186 in the first two games of the National League Division Series against the Brewers. "We'll have our talks and our meetings before the game today, but there isn't a whole lot of discussion.

View Full Game Coverage

"It's visible what we're doing up there at the plate, and it's just not getting done."

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

With the Rockies' well-documented chasing of pitches outside the zone, and Brewers lefty Wade Miley's ability to get hitters to do just that, Arenado's history against Miley stood as a good strategy. Arenado entered hitting .385 (5-for-13) with, more importantly, four walks and a sacrifice fly against Miley.

However, according to Statcast™, in Games 1 and 2, Arenado chased nine of the 15 pitches he saw outside the zone. Five pitches Arenado chased were fastballs -- three above the zone, two inside. The swings above the zone might not be a factor with Miley, who has changed from earlier in his career when he worked high with the fastball. The ones inside are a concern, since Miley uses his cutter there.

The team-wide and individual tendency to chase begged a logical question: Is postseason pressure -- in the first series for many of the club's regulars -- a factor?

Arenado's response?

Who cares? Just do the job.

"Every game is do or die now, so that's enough pressure as it is," Arenado said. "We're just trying to go out there and win a ballgame. That's all we're trying to think about. We're not worried about what's going on around us or what the other team is doing."

On the mound: Bud Black
A usual pregame ritual for All-Stars Charlie Blackmon and Trevor Story before the Rockies face a left-hander is to have batting-cage sessions with manager Bud Black, a former Major League lefty with postseason experience. On Sunday, Black pitched to all the regulars on the field.

Sometimes in the cage sessions, Black will emulate the other team's starter's breaking ball, especially if it's a tough slider. On Sunday, it was fastballs. Miley throws with less velocity than earlier in his career, but he manipulates between a fastball, a slider and a cutter. Some of Sunday's reserves -- Gerardo Parra, David Dahl and Garrett Hampson in particular -- took their cuts off right-handed bench coach Mike Redmond.

Total confidence
Lefty Kyle Freeland would have been on normal rest had he started Sunday, but Black went with righty German Marquez and gave Freeland an extra day. Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in Tuesday's NL Wild Card Game came on three days' rest. Freeland was slated for Monday's Game 4 if necessary, and he spoke with confidence that he would have that chance.

Video: NL WC: Freeland strikes out 6 over 6 2/3 scoreless

"Look at Marquez's second half -- he's got an extremely hot hand," Freeland said. "He's gone out there and dominated and shown what he can truly do. I have full confidence in Marquez.

"Obviously, being a competitor, you want to be the one who takes the at-bat or takes the ball or takes the mound or whatever, but you have to have complete confidence in your teammates to let them do their job and help this team move on."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado

Rockies to go with Marquez in Game 3

Freeland lined up with extra rest for potential Game 4
MLB.com

MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander German Marquez is scheduled to start Game 3 for the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field, which means lefty Kyle Freeland slots in for Monday's if-necessary Game 4 start in the National League Division Series against the Brewers.

If there was sentiment toward starting Freeland -- a Denver native -- in the Rockies' first home postseason game since 2009, manager Bud Black pushed that aside for practicality.

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MILWAUKEE -- Right-hander German Marquez is scheduled to start Game 3 for the Rockies on Sunday afternoon at Coors Field, which means lefty Kyle Freeland slots in for Monday's if-necessary Game 4 start in the National League Division Series against the Brewers.

If there was sentiment toward starting Freeland -- a Denver native -- in the Rockies' first home postseason game since 2009, manager Bud Black pushed that aside for practicality.

View Full Game Coverage

Freeland's 6 2/3 scoreless innings in the Rockies' 2-1, 13-inning victory over the Cubs in Tuesday night's NL Wild Card Game came after three days' rest. Although Sunday's start would be on regular rest, the added day came into play.

:: NLDS schedule and results ::

"Even though it's regular days' rest, we thought Marquez, then Freeland," Black said. "They've pitched that way here the last number of weeks. Give Kyle an extra day's rest after the short rest."

Marquez's last appearance was mixed. He struck out nine but gave up two home runs and was out after 4 2/3 innings in the Rockies' 5-2 loss to the Dodgers on Monday in the NL West tiebreaker.

Marquez was hurt by a Cody Bellinger two-run homer in an at-bat that should not have happened. Marquez crossed up catcher Tony Wolters by throwing a fastball when a changeup was called, and Wolters ended up with a passed ball on a third strike to Max Muncy. Marquez fanned the next two hitters before the mistake to Bellinger.

Muncy homered later on a pitch that left the Rockies wondering how he even put the ball in play, much less had a homer.

At Coors Field this year, Marquez is 6-6 with a 4.74 ERA in 16 starts. Since July 11, he is 4-1 with a 1.90 ERA in seven home starts -- six of them Rockies wins. He was named the NL Pitcher of the Month for September.

Video: MIL@COL Gm3: Black on Marquez starting Game 3

Is it mind or body?
Righty reliever Adam Ottavino has given up key hits on 0-2 pitches to the Cubs' Javier Baez in the Wild Card Game and to the Brewers' Mike Moustakas, who won Game 1 on Thursday with a single. The first one, he was caught between throwing a fastball and a slider. The second one, Ottavino attacked Moustakas with four straight fastballs instead of going to a slider. The last pitch, he thought Moustakas would be looking for a slider.

Is this a case of overthinking, especially for a pitcher with one of the sport's best sliders?

"He does have good stuff … hey, he's a smart guy," Black said. "He might overthink some at times, but I think he'll be the first to tell you that pitch execution is premium.

"The last couple of times that we've had guys in the situation to put him away, he just hasn't. I think that's probably more physical than mental."

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Ottavino on Game 1 loss to Brewers

Have they seen it all?
The Brewers' "bullpen day" was a rousing success for eight innings, when they held the Rockies to one hit -- Carlos Gonzalez's triple. But in a short and compact series, will having fresh memories of key relievers work to the advantage of Rockies hitters?

"Obviously, the more times you face someone, the more comfortable you're going to feel," said shortstop Trevor Story, who won't remember bullpen day fondly after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. "We've seen those guys a few times this year, and we just saw them last night -- pretty much all their guys."

Video: COL@MIL Gm1: Gonzalez triples for Rockies' 1st hit

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Kyle Freeland, German Marquez